05 January 2012
David Sandalow, US Department of Energy’s assistant secretary for policy and international affairs, today discussed the DOE’s latest report on rare earth metals and clean technologies at the Center for Strategic & International Studies Energy and National Security Program in Washington, DC.
Rare earth elements such as silicon and titanium play a key role in making solar cells and other clean energy technologies. The 2011 Critical Materials Strategy report found that several clean energy technologies use materials at risk of supply disruptions in the short term, with risks generally decreasing in the medium and long terms. Supply challenges for five rare earth metals (dysprosium, neodymium, terbium, europium and yttrium) may affect clean energy technology deployment in the years ahead.
China, which controls about 95% of the global rare-earth metal market, started capping its exports in 2009.
In the past year, DOE has developed its first critical materials research and development plan, provided new funding for priority research, convened international workshops that brought together leading experts, and participated in substantial new coordination among federal agencies working on these topics. The fiscal year 2012 spending bill also includes $20 million to fund an energy innovation hub focused on critical materials that will help to further advance the three pillars of the DOE strategy: diversifying supply, developing substitutes, and improving recycling, reuse and more efficient use.
The 2011 Critical Materials Strategy is DOE’s second report on this topic and provides an update to last year’s analysis. The report includes criticality assessments for 16 elements based on their importance to clean energy and supply risk.
Also see “Rare Earth Elements Not So Rare in US,” and “Ucore Comments on DOE Critical Metals Strategy Report”.